Start a Startup Challenge

NIDA has offered the “$100,000 Start an SUD Startup” Challenge annually since 2015. This program is an opportunity for researchers to test whether their idea has potential as the foundation of a new biotech startup, with the goal of the Challenge being to support research ideas in the area of substance use disorders (SUDs). Eventually, NIDA intends that the newly created startups will contribute to the pool of innovative small business companies that can successfully compete for NIDA’s Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) and Small Business Technology Transfer (STTR) funding.

The Challenge is administered in two stages. For Stage 1, winning teams will be offered a non-cash prize of a 6-month long product development mentorship from NIDA biomedical entrepreneurship experts. The teams that successfully complete the training process, culminating in each team’s startup presentation, will be awarded up to $10,000 per team in Stage 2. 

Eligibility Requirements:

  • Participants must be a team of individuals that has a research idea either directly related to SUD or that could be extended or adjusted to be useful for SUD (e.g., the idea could originate in another field of study but must be applicable to SUD).
  • The entire team should be deeply committed and willing to devote the time necessary for completing the mentorship curriculum, which will require several hours of work each week on learning exercises. 
  • Participants must be interested in creating a startup around their research idea with the goal of creating the proposed product for the identified target customers.
  • The potential startup founder and the team they assemble must have the passion, drive, discipline, ability to work collaboratively, and willingness to push forward under conditions of business uncertainty.

For more information about past Challenges and winners, see the “Past Challenges” section on NIDA’s Challenge Program webpage. 

If you have any additional questions about this Challenge or other Challenge competitions NIDA offers, please contact:
Sara Lioi, Ph.D.NIDAChallenge@nih.govPhone: (301) 827-5829